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Reflecting on his time in the Obama White House, Sullivan said he felt more could have been done there, too, to put the average American on the agenda in the Situation Room on a regular basis. And he paused for a long moment when asked how the rise of Trump and Trumpism had affected his worldview, attuning him more, for example, to the populist tide at home that he may have missed while focusing on international nuclear negotiations, peace deals and trade treaties.

“When you spend years in government working on the Iran deal, or working on the Asia-Pacific rebalance, or working on issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, it’s not that you completely lose sight of what’s happening on the home front — but your focus is more on other things,” Sullivan said. “I do think that the 2016 campaign had an impact on my thinking, but it wasn’t all about Trump. It was about the vigorous debate the Democrats had in the primary. It was about a recognition, as I left national security and entered a domestic political conversation, about how profoundly such a large segment of our country felt their government wasn’t working for them.”

Sullivan caveats that he doesn’t believe such economic anxiety was the sole driver of Trump’s 2016 victory, which he says was also fueled by appeals to identity and isolationism. But the campaign gave him a “crash course,” he said, in the importance of bringing issues of inequality, dislocation and a disconnect between working people and their government to “every table in the White House — including in the Situation Room.”

So what will a Sullivan-led National Security Council look like? It won’t be too big or micromanaging, Sullivan insists — criticisms that dogged the Obama NSC, which stood accused of stepping on the prerogatives of Cabinet agencies, be it by setting troop levels or insisting on signing off on individual drone strikes.

“I see my job as fundamentally about supporting and lifting up the work of the broader national security team in service of the president-elect’s mission and strategy,” he said. “My goal is to have a process that is able to give sufficient direction, but then empower the departments and agencies to be the tip of the spear to carry that out.”

“He is unlikely to be confined to traditional structures,” said former Obama NSC official Salman Ahmed. “He has long argued persuasively that these issues don’t fit neatly within the bureaucratic lens.”

The early years of Obama’s NSC were often tense, particularly under retired Gen. Jim Jones, an outsider who often clashed with the coterie of political aides around the president and resigned just before the 2010 midterms.

Among the many challenges Sullivan will confront immediately, knowing colleagues like incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain won’t be one of them. “I’d argue no two people know each other better, have worked more closely, overlapped more or have a better working relationship on Day One than any chief of staff/national security adviser pair before them,” said Reines.

“They all worked together at one level down in the Obama administration,” another former Obama White House official said. “They are all friends — they’re not strangers, not rivals, and at the very least are all known commodities to each other.”

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One could argue that might make the team insular, prone to the kind of groupthink that can lead to mistakes and missed opportunities. Mike Pompeo, the outgoing secretary of State, has already mocked his successors for allegedly living in “a bit of a fantasy world” and for practicing “multilateralism for the sake of hanging out with your buddies at a cool cocktail party.”

The former Obama White House official said the preexisting relationships among the Biden crew will make them effective — unlike the early days of the Trump presidency, which was plagued by rivalries, competing media leaks, backstabbing and constant staff turnover.

For all Sullivan’s innate caution, he seems inclined to break sharply with his predecessors’ emphasis on a traditional definition of U.S. national security: tanks and missiles, grand summits and spy satellites.

The “major focus” of the Biden NSC’s work, at least initially, will be on beating the coronavirus pandemic and restructuring the NSC to make public health a permanent national security priority, Sullivan said. China will also be put on notice, he added.

“The way you actually make sure this doesn’t happen again is by sending a very clear message to China that the United States and the rest of the world will not accept a circumstance in which we do not have an effective public health surveillance system, with an international dimension, in China and across the world going forward,” Sullivan said. A key theme Sullivan repeatedly returns to is the restoration of alliances and partnerships that were neglected or spurned under Trump.

“Unlike the policy of the last few years, we will be able to rally the rest of the world behind us” on key foreign policy and national security issues, such as pressuring Iran to come back into compliance with the nuclear deal so that the U.S. can reenter negotiations, Sullivan said.

He is similarly optimistic about one of his loftiest goals: “to rally our allies to combat corruption and kleptocracy, and to hold systems of authoritarian capitalism accountable for greater transparency and participation in a rules-based system.”

That effort will need to begin at home — as has been well documented, the world’s kleptocratic regimes depend heavily on money laundering networks that commonly extend into Western centers of global finance like New York and London, aided by lax incorporation rules in places like Delaware.

But as one former Obama administration official put it, the hardest task for Biden and by extension Sullivan will be cleaning up the “shattered glass” left by the Trump administration, along with an international community that has grown weary of the whiplash induced by America’s political dramas.

“It’s a different world now,” said Ambassador Dennis Ross, a veteran diplomat who worked with Sullivan in the Obama White House. “But Jake brings experience and personal relationships that are indispensable.”


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GOP Senator: Trump’s Not Going to be 2024 Republican Nominee

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Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) urged his fellow Republicans to move past former President Donald Trump on Sunday, predicting that due to the damage Trump has done to the GOP, he likely won’t be the party’s presidential nominee in 2024.

Hours before Trump was set to deliver his first post-White House speech at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Cassidy appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss the current state of the Republican Party and Trump’s place in it.

The Louisiana lawmaker, who was one of seven GOP senators to vote to convict Trump during the ex-president’s second impeachment trial earlier this month, called on the GOP to make issues and policy front and center in the coming elections.

“We’ve got to win in two years, we’ve got to win in four years,” Cassidy told host Dana Bash. “If we do that, we’ll do that by speaking to those issues important to the American people, and there’s a lot of issues important to them right now, not by putting one person on a pedestal and making that one person our focal point.”

Bash, meanwhile, noted that Trump’s influence on the party is not diminishing, despite his impeachment for allegedly inciting an insurrectionist riot at the U.S. Capitol. Pointing out that Trump’s face was literally “embronzed” at CPAC and top Republicans are flying down to meet the former president, the CNN host asked how the GOP can move forward with Trump still in the spotlight.

“CPAC is not the entirety of the Republican Party,” he replied. “That’s number one. Number two, political organizations and campaigns are about winning. Over the last four years, we lost the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the presidency. That has not happened in a single four years under a president since Herbert Hoover. If we plan to win in 2022 and 2024, we have to listen to the voters.”

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Asked whether he was personally faulting Trump for the GOP losing control of Congress, Cassidy demurred somewhat, insisting again that Republicans need to speak to policy solutions. At the same time, he did say that if they “idolize one person, we will lose.”

Noting that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—who was highly critical of Trump’s role in the insurrection—has come out and said he will back Trump if he runs in 2024, Bash then pressed Cassidy on whether he feels Trump is fit to be president again.

“I don’t think—one, he’ll be 78 years old—but I don’t think he’ll be our nominee for the reasons I’ve said,” Cassidy responded. “Over the last four years, we’ve lost the House, the Senate, and the presidency. Political campaigns are about winning.”

“That’s a theoretical that I don’t think will come to pass,” he concluded. “I don’t mean to duck, but the truth is you could ask me [about] a lot of people, if they are fit. Point is, I don’t think he’ll be our nominee.”
(Fox News

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New Republican group promises to have ‘Trump shaking in his boots’ over his future

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Appearing on MSNBC early Sunday morning, a former member of Donald Trump’s administration teased the announcement of a newly formed group of Republicans and ex-Republicans whose goal is to make sure that the ex-president will never be a viable candidate for office again.

Speaking with hosts Kendis Gibson and Lindsey Reiser, former Homeland Security official Miles Taylor noted the current CPAC conference in Florida where the president is expected to get hero’s welcome from the far-right attendees and said it is important that traditional Republicans push back on Trump’s re-entry into the public square after losing re-election in November.

“I want to give you a number: 50 percent,” Taylor began. “Donald Trump can’t get to 50 percent. We just saw this in the most recent election, he cannot win elections. We’ve got to be able to, in the Republican Party, have someone who is a standard-bearer that can get us over 50 percent to win elections. He can’t, he lost in spectacular fashion in this election and that’s why I think it’s entirely inappropriate for us to continue to put him forward as the leader of this party. it’s a mistake that’s going the cause the GOP to lose elections in the future and it’s time to move on from Donald Trump.”

Pressed on his future plans to oppose Trump, Taylor first said, “There are a lot of people in the party ready to move beyond Donald Trump. In fact, most of us realize he is much better at golfing than governing which is really saying a lot if you know anything about Donald Trump’s golf game,” before adding, “Donald Trump lost, not because more Democrats came out. Donald Trump lost because his own voters defected from him.”

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“I’m happy to share with you today a little bit of a tease,” he added. ” I can’t give you all the information, but we’re about to make an announcement in the very near future that’s going to make Donald Trump have the worst heartburn he’s had in the post-presidency. We’re going to be channeling this movement to challenge him to create an insurgency within and without the GOP to drive forward towards a better center-right political movement than Donald Trump can put together. It’s something he’s going to have to contend with.”

Pressed for more details he added, “You’re aware of the fact that we’ve been having conversations with very prominent people in the GOP and ex-Republicans about where we go beyond Trump, how do we move beyond Trump. You’re going to hear from us in the month of March about what’s coming next.”

“What’s coming next is going to make Donald Trump fear for his ability to continue to be a standard-bearer of this party,” he continued. “We are going to channel this movement, rally people together in the center, bring the Republican Party back from crazy to rational as best we can, and Trump should be shaking in his boots.”
(Raw Story)

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CPAC designed as a Trump coronation, former head of American Conservative Union says

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The former head of the organization that oversees CPAC on Sunday called this year’s ongoing event a coronation of Donald Trump.

Calling him “the great whiner.” Al Cardenas said on MSNBC of Trump: “He’s going to continue to make sure people understand that he is the de facto leader of the Republican Party, and those that don’t follow his path will have to pay for it.”

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Cardenas was the head of the American Conservative Union from 2011 to 2014. The organization runs the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which began in 1974 with Ronald Reagan as its first keynote speaker. Cardenas was succeeded by Matt Schlapp, who remains the organization’s president.


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